In the period from September 24 until September 27, 2017 around 60 participants from 9 different countries visited the National Park Kalkalpen in Austria.
The study tour to National Park Kalkalpen was organized within the ECO KARST project. This was an opportunity for all partners to meet again as well as to learn more about the management and biodiversity of the National Park region. Further, this trip involved over 20 local entrepreneurs from all pilot areas to show and inspire them abouth diverse types of pro-biodiversity businesses.
ECO KARST project partners (Photo: P. Drašković)
On Monday, project partners visited Southern part of NP Kalkalpen which included Phyrn Priel region, NP Information Centre, Panorama Tower Wurbauerkogel, Hengstpass theme trail and mountain pasture Puglalm. Dr. Erich Mayrhofer, director of the National Park Kalkalpen welcomed the participants. He talked about the 20 years of experience in management of the National Park and challenges they have faced in bringing the Park to its current state.
Hengstpass trail (Photo: P. Drašković)
Tuesday was reserved for the field trip on nature products in the Western part of NP Kalkalpen, where project partners visited Höllhuber fruit drinks and ciders and wood processing plant Aigner. The most interesting day of the study tour, as stated by the participants, ended by visiting the heart of Austria - Bodinggraben valley. In the valley, participants went for a wilderness experience tour - red deer observation, guided by Mr. Bernhard Sulzbacher. At the same time, another group of participants visited the famous castle of the Count Lamberg, one of the most significant cultural-historical destination of this area.
Red deer observation tour (Photo: P. Drašković)
The study tour programme was closed with lectures on pro-biodiversity businesses and meeting with the local entrepreneurs.
“For me, the Austrian National Park Kalkalpen demonstrated a very good visitor management approach. A concentration of visitors on buffer zones and a few non-restricted areas of the protected zone supports a holistic protection strategy and preserves the high quality of the habitats. The close collaboration with the park communities and riparian communities is focusing on the important balance between protection and economic development of the natural and cultural heritage and resources. A number of convincing marketing examples - from apple juice via beef to high price use of timber - underlined the success of this approach.” (Udo Gattenlöhner, CEO, Global Nature Fund).
Besides the regular study tour programme, Steering Committee meeting as well as Coordination meeting were held.
In November, project partners will meet again in the Nature Park Žumberak, Croatia, on the ocassion of Training on identification ecosystem types, escosystem services and stakeholder mapping and analysis.
Steering Committee Meeting (Photo: P. Drašković)
ECO KARST project aims to contribute to protection, conservation and sustainable use of karst ecosystems in the Danube and Dinaric basin by raising awareness about ecosystem services and increasing the number of commited local pro-biodiversity business entrepreneurs. Major challenge in the Danube region is finding the right balance between conservation, protection, and improvement of ecosystems, as well as their sustainable use. ECO KARST addresses 7 protected karst areas in 7 different countries with common features and similar problems: Bijambare Protected Landscape (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Žumberak-Samoborsko gorje Nature park (Croatia), Notranjska Regional Park (Slovenia), Tara National Park (Serbia), Apuseni National Park (Romania), Bukk National Park (Hungary) and National Park Kalkalpen (Austria).